hanging plants

There are two types of children – those that clean their room when told and those that play in the mess instead. I was the latter one. For me, there was a sense of freedom that came with being messy. Leaving my things wherever I wanted proved that I had the power to do so – and I resisted giving that power up. Yet when I got married, I had to learn how to give my husband the gift of clear and clean spaces in our house. He needed order to feel at peace, and I needed order to create a beautiful environment for our lives.

Order and beauty are not the same thing, but they are connected. In our workspaces, order gives us the feeling of structure and calms anxiety, while beauty uplifts and invites inspiration. You can have order without beauty, but you cannot have beauty without order.

I want to feel inspired and energized at work. But during the last few weeks, I’ve let my office become cluttered with miscellaneous papers (that reminded me of things still undone) and various items that needed to be returned to the places they belong. I forgot how important my physical surroundings are to my spiritual connection.

A beautiful environment prepares us to discover the desires of our soul.

This week’s intention

The spaces we work in can support inner contentment and inspiration, or they can leave us feeling anxious and disconnected from our joy. It is not a coincidence that we feel relaxed the moment we walk into a spa. The environment was purposefully designed to calm and relax our senses.

Making a change is not the hardest career decision; the hardest decision is choosing what we want in the first place. If you are constantly surrounded by clutter or items you find unattractive, broken or useless – it is having an impact on your ability to know the desires of your soul.

My intention is to live surrounded by beauty and inspired to pursue what I truly want.

This week, let’s take time to improve our physical work environments to whatever extent we can. Ask yourself:

  • Is my space in order? If not, remove, store and reorganize as you feel moved to.
  • Are there things in my line of sight that I find beautiful? If not, bring in new items (plants, office supplies, décor, etc.) or rearrange what you already have to bring it closer.
  • Are there other ways to engage my senses at work?
    • What textures do I like to touch?
    • What scents do I want to smell?
    • What colors spark my peace or joy?
    • What memories do I want to keep top of mind (e.g. wedding photos, pictures of family or friends, art projects, beloved books)?

Look for simple ways to add beauty into your space and see what ideas and thoughts are inspired. Do you suddenly feel drawn to nature? Is quality time with loved ones calling you? Do you need more adventure in your life? Is your soul begging you to rest?

Create a space where you are inspired to listen to the unique needs of your soul. This especially matters in our workspaces where we spend so much of our time. Whether your space is an office, coffee shop, home, classroom, factory, studio, vehicle or even the great outdoors – work to shape your environment and pay closer attention to what comes up during your prayer and meditation time.

More on discovering what we need next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

 

My relationship with joy is fairly new. For much of my life, I spent time longing for things and exploring the places that hurt inside; I knew well what I wanted less of. What I wasn’t in touch with was what my joy felt like. Perhaps for the first time in my adult life, I am routinely overwhelmed by a state of peace and simple pleasure. This feeling is unfamiliar, but I know I want more of it.

When we pay attention to the joyful things we already have (and want more of), we are careful to not lose those things as we move toward change.

This week’s intention

The most common career mistake is to correct one problem with a new job, only to inherit a new set of problems when we get there. I’ve done this several times over my career –  left a bad boss to work for a better one, only to find I hated the actual work of the new job. I’ve left a boring job to go to a soul-crushingly busy job. I’ve changed companies just because I needed more money, but found it hard to endure the hyper-competitive culture I had placed myself in. I could not take my attention off what was wrong, disappointing or frustrating long enough to consider what I already had and what I might want more of.

This week, we are revisiting the topic of change in our work lives. The first step toward change is obvious – to consider if we are even ready for a change in the first place. Is there room for change in our lives? But, the second step can seem rather counterintuitive because it pauses the process of change instead of moving us toward it.

My intention is to discover and connect with the things that bring me joy.

For me, my coworkers bring me joy. They are supportive. They are infinitely interesting and talented. But most importantly, they are genuine. I will never be content in a work environment that doesn’t have colleagues like this – and I learned that the hard way. They bring me joy.

As you continue to assess your current work life and your possible need for change, take time this week to reflect on what is bringing you joy right now. Take time to connect with joy, get to know joy and invite joyful experiences to hold your attention. If you journal, this is a great week to focus on the simple things you encounter at work that exhilarate you or give you a deep sense of comfort.

More on this next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Tents

We saw it coming for some time, but this week it was confirmed that my youngest son is finally taller than the oldest. Clearly, they are both perfect in their mother’s unbiased opinion. Neither is winning nor losing, but I still got the sense that my oldest felt like he was falling behind a little.

Life (and social media in particular) can make us feel like we are falling behind in our work life if we aren’t constantly announcing a new success, new project or new job. And don’t get me wrong, those moments are exciting. Yet, the real work is accomplished in the humble and quiet points between each change.

Last week’s post focused on accessing if it was time for a change, and for some of you it might be. This week is about choosing to be satisfied with where you are – if where you are is where you need (or have) to be. Maybe you love your current job or you have too much on your plate right now to even think about adding a change at work. Some of you are already in fairly new jobs or haven’t accomplished what you came there to do. It’s okay to be content with where you are – and it’s important to stay the course.

There’s nothing worse than being exactly where you need to be, but still feeling dissatisfied and restless.

This week’s intention

We will talk more about how to move toward change next week. Change gets all the glory, but it is during times of stillness that we fulfill our purpose. This week’s intention is to be deliberate about cultivating contentment and staying the course.

My intention is to find meaning in my experience and trust the process.

The goal of our time together is to be deliberate in your intention to get the most out of every work experience, so the world gets the most out of you. Between times of change, ask yourself how can you make your work life more meaningful and infuse joy? Perhaps you want to be more deliberate about your gratitude practice, forgive a boss or coworker for a previous grievance or connect more deeply with the people around you? Is there a skill you have the opportunity to learn that can be leveraged in the next assignment? Does this job provide much needed security, flexibility or time to recharge?

The hardest part is to pause long enough to think about it. Which is why I want to encourage you this week to simply create the space to do just that – think and appreciate.

See you next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Fall Leaves

Somehow it still surprises me whenever the seasons change. I see it coming on the calendar, but fail to prepare for the real life process of letting the weather, my wardrobe and the family activities shift into a new experience.

In our work lives, we go through different seasons as well – times when we are intently focused on building greater security, times when we crave riskier passion projects or times when our personal lives will require more of our attention. Yet often, our circumstances shift and we fail to notice that a new season has started. We may continue plowing along with mismatched expectations for the role work can and should be playing in this new phase of our lives.

Your life stage and your work dreams are intimately connected.

This week’s intention

Assessing your unique work needs requires spiritual reflection and there is no “one size fits all” plan for what you should be doing in any particular life stage. I’ve known people to birth successful businesses or thrive in demanding jobs in the midst of life circumstances that would make me pause on my work aspirations, while they aggressively charged ahead. So don’t assume the stage dictates the changes you need to make. Instead, set the intention to take time to consider whether the seasons of your life are shifting and how that impacts what you need from your work.

What has changed or will soon be changing in your life?  Some examples may be:

  • You are exhausted, managing a family crisis, have a high-needs child or are taking care of an aging parent – is it time to take a safe or more stable assignment to refocus your energy at home?
  • Your children are older, your parents are gone or you’ve stepped back from another significant obligation – is it time to birth a new dream with your expanding capacity?
  • You’ve finally saved enough to be reasonably secure or you’ve grown bored with the status quo – is it time to take more risk in your work life?
  • You’ve been battered by grief or weathered a personal crisis (health, financial or emotional) – is it time to use the wisdom you’ve gained toward a new purpose?

These are only examples of shifts you might be going through.

My intention is to examine my life and assess the role work is meant to play during this season.

This week carry this intention with you throughout each day. Bring it to your prayer and meditation time. Set aside time to journal specifically on this topic. Ask God what is next for you and expect to hear the answer.

More on this next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Spirtual ServiceIf this weekend in Virginia is any indication, I will soon be packing up and putting away the items that served me well this summer. Whenever I switch over my closet for the winter, I inevitably find a lost item (usually a bathing suit) I failed to unpack. I look at it sadly, knowing that I missed an opportunity to use and enjoy it.

In our work lives there may be entire parts of our personalities that never make it to our place of employment. They stay “packed up” and reserved for our personal or spiritual life. Which brings us to our focus for this week – giving ourselves permission to bring our fullest self out into the open and especially into our work lives.

Your true self is the only person capable of your highest work.

This week’s intention

What part of yourself has the world told you to play down or put away entirely to be successful? Did being naturally sensitive turn into being “too emotional” to be viewed as a steady leader or a shrewd negotiator? Did being naturally expressive create too much transparency for workplace politics? Have you been made to feel that wanting a balanced life was a sign that you aren’t motivated enough or not a team player?

This week we need to drag out all of the glorious traits, desires and needs we have packed up and put away in the name of being someone else’s definition of the right kind of leader, colleague or employee. The version of ourselves we bring to work attracts our future opportunities. Do you want to steer yourself to a work environment you can fully thrive in or do you want to “fit the mold” even if that keeps you at a place that isn’t right for you?

My intention is to honor my authentic traits by allowing them to show up in my work life.

This week we are setting an intention to let our fullest and truest selves rise back to the surface. What are you like at home? What were you like as a child? Is this the person you are bringing into work each day? If not, take this week to reflect on what parts of yourself may be packed up and why. Bring this intention to your prayer, journaling and meditation time. This may not seem like much of a task, but it is an important step toward finding and doing your highest work. The world needs every bit of who you really are.

See you next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Wish

If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance that you want more from your work life. You dream of getting up on a Monday morning filled with joy to do work that matters. You want to rise full of energy ready to engage in work that not only pays your bills, but expands your consciousness and reinforces the spiritual life you are trying to lead.

That’s the dream. It’s an amazing and achievable dream, but it is not yet your reality. It may not be the reality of anyone you know. Do you believe it can be for you?

Dreams come easy. Believing in them is hard.

This Week’s Intention

The first step of creation is always sparked by an intention. In this case, our intention is to open ourselves up to the vulnerability of believing in this dream. I’m not talking about thinking about the dream. I am talking about embedding this dream deep in your heart and soul. Maybe you had this dream once upon a time and you gave it up. You’ll need to bring it back to life.

My intention is to believe that joy and fulfillment from work will be my destiny.

Believing is all I want you to focus, pray and mediate on for this week. It is where we have to start our journey together if you hope for a better work life. Is what I described above your dream? Are you willing to truly believe in it?

Once your intention is set, bring that intention to your daily prayer, journaling or meditation time this week. Say the words to yourself before you begin each workday. You may need to say it more often if you find yourself exhausted or especially irritated. We’ve all been there, but we don’t have to stay there. For now, just believe.

See you next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Openwounds

Has your August been a month of relaxation, anticipation or a mix of both? If you’re like me, you may be feeling more anxious than peaceful this week.

I’m a bit nervous about the start of the school year and the ramp up of my work travel. I wonder if September will bring new projects or opportunities I haven’t planned for. I worry that my days (especially weekdays) may become overburdened with tasks and responsibilities.

My workload is about to shift, but I don’t know if I’m ready.

This Week’s Intention

I want to quickly connect before the relaunch of Simply Service on September 3rd. The purpose is to get you thinking ahead about what you want from your work and life experience this fall. My hope is to help you set a clear, specific and guiding intention for whatever is about to come your way.

My intention is to ease into this next season ready to appreciate each day and energized for the work ahead.

I want to stay mindful of the gift that each day holds and trust that I am capable and prepared. I will spend this last week of August placing this intention deep in my heart when I meditate and pray.

I hope you will take some time this week to reflect and set the intention that meets your unique needs and will serve you most in the days to come.

See you next week!


Learn more about Simply Service, my work and me at Purpose and Kourtney’s story.


Meet me here to connect more often.


Know someone else that needs inspiration in their work life?

Blossom

Simply Service was launched in 2013 with a broad focus to include the philanthropic, volunteer and relationship aspects of service. I thank you for being a part of that vision as a frequent reader and subscriber. Your comments, support and questions shaped my life in many ways.

After much reflection, Simply Service will be officially relaunched on September 3, 2018 centering specifically on the career and work life aspects of service. My goal is to create a site that will support you as you discover and birth the work of your life. To learn more about the new site, please visit the updated Purpose page. To learn more about me and my work, please visit Kourtney’s story.

Let’s stay together.

I wanted to give you time to consider whether your work life is all you hoped it would be and if the new Simply Service site would be of value to you. If so, I hope you will stay with me in this next season. All content from previous years has been archived under the category “Older Content”. If there was a post you loved from that time you can still find it on the blog.

I look forward to connecting again soon.

Art Child

Last week, my husband and I took a cruise to celebrate our anniversary. We love traveling together and enjoy being on a cruise ship. This year, we choose to travel on one of the largest ships in the sea. It was massive and had a number of features we had not experienced on previous cruises.

One of my favorite features was finding art in every stairwell, landing and hallway. Each piece of art was curated from a different part of the world. They covered countless countries and cultures. With the luxury of free time, I stopped at different pieces to read about the artist and his/her inspiration.

Each piece took on a new meaning when the artist’s background and what they hoped their work would bring to mind was explained.

Context changes everything.

Unfortunately, context is rarely obvious at first glance. We have to dig deeper to understand the context behind a piece of art. We have to do some research to understand the context of quotes or religious scriptures. We have to build relationships and ask questions to understand the context of human lives, actions and emotions.

I left our trip wanting to work harder to understand the context surrounding the lives of the people around me. It is hard to serve people well if I don’t truly know them.

Here are a few questions I plan to ask more frequently (when appropriate).

  1. How did the place you are from shape who you are today?
  2. What are the one or two most defining moments in your life to date? And why?
  3. What is something people think about you that isn’t true?
  4. How close is the life you live today from the life you want to live?

These questions may be too personal to ask in some relationships. Don’t be alarmed or offended. Do feel privileged if someone is willing to share any of these answers with you. Clearly, they trust you.

Which question do you think reveals the most about a person?

 

Waterdrops

“Nothing will change if nothing changes”

-Unknown

We know the world needs our help, but it can be hard to know where to start. Start here. Some of the items on the list below are easy and some are a bit harder. Some of the items will take you 30 seconds to complete and others will require a little more time. Most of these are free of expense, but some are not. Use this list if you’re having a hard time channeling your concern over all the tragedies and conflicts in the world into tangible action. It’s our work and NOT simply our compassionate thoughts that change the world. Start small, but start today.

100 Ways to Love on the World

  1. Send encouragement to someone caring for an aging parent.
  2. Donate coats and blankets you won’t use often.
  3. Get to know someone on a deeper level. Who did they love? What did they lose? What matters most to them?
  4. Enrich a livelihood. Donate to fund a microloan to help people in other parts of the world increase their earning potential.
  5. Marvel in the power of human expression. Buy tickets to music, dance and other live performances.
  6. Make an effort to use both sides of your paper.
  7. Laugh long and hard. Laugh loud enough for others to hear you.
  8. Plant something and watch it grow.
  9. Buy art that moves you and says things words can’t.
  10. Donate batteries to keep lifesaving appliances and smoke detectors working.
  11. Shop kindly. Choose to shop from companies that donate a portion of their proceeds to charity.
  12. Say no. Knowing you can set limits will give you the confidence to serve more.
  13. Join a bone marrow registry.
  14. Raise your awareness of the employee working conditions at the companies you support.
  15. Help them live the dream and share their art. Dine at chef-owned restaurants.
  16. Tip generously.
  17. Advocate for a minimum living wage in your community.
  18. Put a Band-Aid in your wallet to give away when needed.
  19. Text someone a specific compliment. (e.g. “I admire how much patience you have with me.”)
  20. Learn the warning signs of suicide and take them seriously.
  21. Buy local produce.
  22. Hear gossip and refuse to spread it.
  23. Adopt your next furry family member at a rescue or shelter.
  24. Plant a passion for service in a child’s heart.
  25. Keep the craft growing. Support new and independent artists.
  26. Choose books that broaden your view of the world.
  27. Shovel your neighbor’s walkway.
  28. Donate your old computer to a school.
  29. Offer your home repair skills to the elderly, ill or a military family.
  30. Learn CPR.
  31. Register to be an organ donor.
  32. Be a designated driver.
  33. Choose to shop at small businesses more often.
  34. Be bold enough to ask for help. Let someone else experience the gift of giving.
  35. Make a small change to conserve energy such as not pre-heating your oven or opening it while food cooks.
  36. Be a connector. Introduce two people with mutual interests or career pursuits.
  37. Multiply the impact of your donations by joining a giving circle.
  38. Share a meal with someone you love.
  39. Brighten a teacher’s day. Send in an unsolicited treat or thank you.
  40. Treat your spouse to an unexpected display of passion.
  41. Do online research about the distinction between charity and philanthropy.
  42. Encourage someone to share their faith with you in a place where it is normally kept quiet (work, school, etc).
  43. Grant someone the freedom to parent differently than you without judgment.
  44. Bring a neighbor an unexpected gift.
  45. Register to vote or correct your voting information.
  46. Offer an elderly pet owner peace of mind by suggesting you care for their beloved pet whenever they are unable.
  47. Choose to share something shameful or painful in your past if it will help another feel less alone.
  48. Rally around an acquaintance going through a difficult time. Sometimes it’s the most unexpected acts of love that touch us the most.
  49. Act! Move beyond sympathetic thoughts. Vow to do one small thing (donate, advocate, etc.) to address a world problem that seems hopeless.
  50. Give someone the freedom to live an unconventional life and still be accepted.
  51. Donate school supplies.
  52. Offer support to a grieving soul long after the funeral.
  53. Share a piece of wisdom that only comes with age.
  54. Make a call and check on an elderly family member.
  55. Create a disaster plan for your family.
  56. Give someone a gift you made yourself.
  57. Take a walk with a loved one. It serves the body and soul.
  58. Drive cautiously and without distractions.
  59. Admit you’re biased. We all are. Facing that we have biases (racial, class, religion, etc) helps us to better address our issues and to serve more sincerely.
  60. Loan someone a book you love.
  61. Don’t let it sit in a drawer. Give your old cell phone and chargers away or donate them to a charity.
  62. Treat a pet with kindness and respect.
  63. Make a small change to conserve water such as not prewashing your dishes before using the dishwasher.
  64. Donate suitcases to foster children.
  65. Share public service information (traffic detours, power outages, flood warnings etc.) via social media.
  66. Turn off and unplug electronics you aren’t using.
  67. Pick up trash that wasn’t properly discarded.
  68. Give someone more credit than they deserve.
  69. Believe someone’s dream is possible. And tell them. They need the support.
  70. Fight indifference and don’t look away. Let yourself feel sadness when you see a homeless person.
  71. Tell someone you forgive them. And mean it.
  72. Contact an elected official via social media to quickly advocate for a global or domestic cause you believe in.
  73. Call someone you usually text and tell them you just wanted to hear their voice.
  74. Pick up an extra item or two from the grocery store to donate to your local food bank.
  75. Make a small online donation to a global, domestic or community nonprofit with a mission you believe in.
  76. Practice empathy. Take a few minutes and imagine the struggles of someone you know.
  77. Listen carefully. People yearn to be heard and understood.
  78. Thank a healthcare provider for their service.
  79. Tell someone a joke.
  80. Save someone from a work conversation they aren’t enjoying. “I hate to interrupt, but can I borrow you for two minutes.”
  81. Actually take your reusable bags into the store with you.
  82. Actually take your reusable cup into Starbucks with you.
  83. Pray for someone.
  84. Teach someone something. Anything.
  85. Get or stay committed to a recycling program
  86. Give someone you love your undivided attention.
  87. Hold a door open and wait while multiple people pass through.
  88. Take time to write a supportive comment to someone on Facebook.
  89. Hug someone.
  90. Share any online article that raises awareness of a service need.
  91. Let that busy person behind you go ahead of you in line.
  92. Leave change in a candy machine.
  93. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
  94. Thank a solider for their service.
  95. Discuss with a younger relative a piece of your family history.
  96. Cheer loudly for someone else’s kid.
  97. Give away an extra umbrella on a rainy day.
  98. Keep your brain sharp and body strong. Serve on!
  99. Share this post and spread the love around.
  100. If you love them, tell them.

What are some others?